Figuring Out How Time Flies


They say that times goes faster with every year. It’s as if the reward for surviving a year on earth is to make you ever more aware of how little time you have left.

I remember being a young child, and the way that each season took on its own lifetime. Winter was endless repetitions of snowfall, sliding down snow mounds and frozen toes. Every school day contained an entire lifetime of social interactions, moments of boredom and waiting for the bell of freedom to ring at last.

Why did time move at such an oozing, ponderous pace?

And why does it race by now? Why does it seem like summer has hardly come when the leaves start to turn?

I don’t know. I don’t have any unique philosophical response for you.

But I do have a theory.

I think time seems to be racing by for adults because we have so damn many reminders of it hitting us on the head.

We wake up to an alarm, reminding us that the night just flew by while we were tossing and turning and trying to keep the ice pack on our elbow. We head for the coffee maker and realize that it’s time, again, to take our morning medicine.

Just looking at the weekly medicine dispenser is a reminder that another day has ticked off our lifetime. Every Saturday, we’re reminded by the empty slots in that dispenser that ANOTHER week is over, even though we swear we just filled this stupid thing like yesterday.

It’s the same when we hear the sound of the trash collector’s truck, and remember that it’s TRASH DAY again. AGAIN!!! Didn’t we just put the barrels back in the garage last night??

As if the hourly, daily and weekly reminders are enough, the bills remind us of the passing of every damn month, too. What? The mortgage is due already? Didn’t November just start? How is it fall already?

Am I ready for Christmas???

Little kids don’t note the passage of time because they don’t have to. They wake up for the most part when they are done sleeping. They eat when they’re hungry or when a meal magically appears in front of them.

A school year is 180 days of the exact same routine. Week after week after week, PE is on Friday at 10. Repeat that enough times when you are little, and it becomes as much a part of your life rhythms as your heartbeat.

But when you grow up, a school year if filled with things to remember. Open house, gym shoes day, drum lesson day, football practice season, vacations. The repetition of the year is filled with concrete reminders of its passing.

Jobs, bills, medical appointments, getting the snow tires put on, they all serve as reminders of time’s passage. The gentle spinning of earth isn’t a smooth and endless flow for adults, as it for kids.

Instead, it’s a furious train filled with deadlines, hurtling past us every minute of every hour of every single day. It’s filled with reminders that we need to hurry, that today is over, that autumn is waning, that our lives are one season or one hour shorter.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to slow that down and go back to savoring the endless days and weeks of summer vacation? I’d like to be able to do that.

Even if it meant forgetting to put out the trash once in a while.

Image : “Clock” by bigpresh is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Worth The Effort?


What is it that gives a person “worth?” I’m old enough, and self aware enough, to know that worth is not measured by money.

Hey, I was a teacher! I’m married to a therapist. Money has never been our goal.

But what is it that lets us move through our days with a sense of self-worth?

At the tender and transitional age of 61, I’m struggling with this question once again.

You see, I used to find my sense of worth from my work. I have always worked, and had a purpose.

When I was only 22, I was a Russian interpreter. I took new immigrants to the doctor. I sat in therapy sessions, helping patient and doctor to understand each other. I helped with surgery, translating what the doctor wanted the patient to do during cataract surgery and cardiac catheterization.

I even helped to interpret at a baby’s birth. I was valued. I felt my worth.

Later, I became a speech pathologist, a job I held for 20 years. I helped families learn how to communicate with their disabled children. I helped those children to find their voices.  I was valued. I knew that what I was doing was helpful and important.

And after many years I became a teacher. I taught fifth graders. I was a fun teacher. I was funny. I made learning interesting. No matter what, I will always know that I was very good at my job.

I felt so good about myself in those years. I felt worthy.

Then things changed. I lost my teaching job, and moved into retirement.

And this is where the question of worth has reappeared. When I have my granddaughter in my arms, I know that I am the most important person on earth. Ellie needs me. Ellie loves me. I am NONNI.

But it’s summer.

Ellie is home with her Mom and Dad and new baby brother. They are close by. I see them almost every day. I love them all more than I could ever express.

But.

Now I have no role. I have no job. I have no way to measure my worth in this lovely world.

So, dear blog readers, I guess I’m fishing. (Phishing?)

Now I wonder, is a gray haired lady still useful if she isn’t physically able to manage her garden by herself? Is she still worth keeping if her husband works hard every day while she stays home and cleans things?

Does it count that this house has NEVER been this clean? Or that the closets are completely organized?

What do I do with myself on these long days? How do I define myself?

Is it legal to actually have three months of vacation while everyone else is working?

I swear, in September I will be back to working hard. I’ll have both two year old Ellie and three month old Johnnie. My arms, my heart and my day will all be full.

But.

What about now? Do I earn some kind of Donna Reed points for the incredibly clean kitchen cabinets and the very fluffy towels in the bathroom? I was raised by one of the first feminists. I know that just being a “homemaker” isn’t an actual role in life.

But what else do I do while I’m waiting to go back to Nonni extraordinaire? How do I feel good about so many days where nothing is actually accomplished?

Sigh.

I have to admit. I think I’m nuts. I hate the fact that I do this to myself.

On the other hand, if anyone needs any alphabetized spices, come on over.

 

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Poor useless Nonni

Nonni in Germany: The Bike Episode #2


If you’ve been reading this little travel journal, you’ll remember that I was a very brave Nonni when I rode a bicycle to the grocery store in Berlin. I mean, OK, so I crashed into a pile of stinging nettles, but I did ride the damn bike, right?

And, boy howdie. Was I proud of myself when I got home!

So when Katja and Jorg took us up to the gorgeous North Sea Island of Sylt, I was only mildly alarmed to hear that we were going to be taking a 45 km ride on e-bikes.

Yup. E-bikes. As in “electronically enhanced bikes that will make you go way faster than you would ever have gone on a regular bike.”

I was…excited!  No, really, I was. The island is so unbelievably beautiful that the idea of being able to see the dunes up close was my absolute dream come true.

I am a confirmed ocean addict, and this was like being in Heaven.

Seriously. The NORTH freaking sea! Where the Vikings sailed! Hell, yeah. I wanted to ride my (big scary) e-bike.

So off we went that cool, sunny morning. I was elated to find that I was able to balance the bike and ride along smoothly and easily. That electric boost was like magic. There I was, zooming along the dunes, the heather and sea on either side, my gray hair blowing in the wind.

It was the most fabulous morning. We stopped for cake (HUGE) and coffee at a beautiful spot on the island. We rode along the tops of the dune. We passed a lighthouse and fields of cows and sheep.  In the early afternoon we arrived at our destination, the little city of Westerland. We shopped and then sat down for a cold beer.

Eventually we headed back toward the northern part of the island, where our hotel was located. We had already ridden farther than I’ve ever biked in my life, but the battery power made the ride easy.

Easy until the moment when the people in front of me found a reason to stop suddenly.

You see, I had mastered that whole “pedal your bike and move forward” thing, and I had gotten pretty good at the “balance on two wheels” thing. But: I was NOT able to stop suddenly.

Uh, uh. No way.

So when Katja stopped in front of me, and Lucas stopped quickly behind her, I knew that I was doomed. I simultaneously pressed back on the foot brakes, squeezed both hand brakes, closed my eyes and made a squealing sound that was reminiscent of a pig being skewered by a fork.

And I face planted on the bike trail in front of me.

Actually, truth to tell, I was fairly graceful as I went over the handlebars. I’m told that I landed relatively gently on my right knee, right hand and right cheekbone. In that order.

All I know is that I saw the cement approaching my face and had just enough presence of mind to turn my head a bit. My bifocals flew off and I found myself on the ground. I have NO idea where the bike was, but it must have been pretty damn close.

I looked up at the horrified faces of my hosts, my husband and a very pretty young German woman. I had just enough comprehension to hear her ask if I was OK and to think, “Nice hair!” Then she was gone.

My biggest worry at that point was “Oh, no!!!! I’m staying at the first upscale resort of my LIFE and I’m going to get home with a black eye and all my face skin removed!”

Eventually I realized that I was in more or less one piece, and I got shakily up to my feet. My glasses were intact. My knee still bent. My expensive new athletic sandals were unscathed. I was completely and totally faked out, but nothing was broken.

I smiled and reassured everyone (especially poor Paul) and got back on the death machine. And off we went, to complete the 15 km left between our location and a good hot shower.

I did OK, overall.

Until Katja stopped to check on me, at which point I more or less screeched, “DO. NOT. STOP.”

It was a very exciting day.

I’m proud that I did it, and glad that I didn’t quit riding and demand a taxi. After another hour or so, we got back to the hotel.

And that’s where the funny part of this story begins. I’ll be back with more!

 

 

Ah, Miss Ellie……


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Rockin’ her Daddy’s hat.

Way, way back, in the dawn of my history, when Paul and I were very young, we used to think about the upcoming weeks and tell ourselves, “I’m glad there is something to look forward to!”

Which means, of course, that there were times when we’d look at each other and think, “Ugh,  there is nothing to look forward to!”

I look back now, at my 22 year old self, and I think, “Are you kidding me? You’re twenty something, and you don’t think you have something to look forward to? You only have your ENTIRE LIFE, you idiot!”

But at 22, I wasn’t thinking that way. I was thinking, “What wonderful adventure is out there for me in the next week?”  I was young. I was foolish.  I didn’t really get it.

And then, at the wise old age of 29, I gave birth to my first child.  My wonderful, beautiful daughter Kate.  And everything changed in an instant.

Suddenly, I knew that I had “something to look forward to” for at least 20 years.  Every morning with my baby was a new beginning.  Every bath time was a treasure. Every meal an adventure.  I was enraptured, enamored, in love, entranced, enthralled.

Life was very, very good.

And then it went on.  Kate’s brothers were born, and the rhythm of my life was set.  I was a happy, busy Momma, and every passing week meant something new to look forward to. There were milestones and holidays and vacations and camping trips.  Birthdays and new schools and sports and plays and music.  Life was one big streak of “something to look forward to”.

And then they all grew up. And they moved away and started their own lives.

There suddenly wasn’t quite so much to look forward to, you know? Life was still happy and full, but the magical moments were gone.

And now, here I am, the full time day care provider for my little Ellie.  Now I am back to the days of making pancakes for someone who will light up with joy at the new taste. I am back to singing brand new songs, and reading exciting new books.

Tonight, when supper was over, I put our leftover coconut rice into a bowl.  I added an egg and some cream and cinnamon. I baked it for 20 minutes.  It smells fantastic.

I will go to bed tonight with something to look forward to.  I will give my beautiful Ellie a bowl of rice pudding for her breakfast tomorrow.

Life is a very beautiful thing.

Completely Transparent…..


I once had a therapist tell me that I was wasting my time with therapy.  She said that my dreams were absolutely obvious.

May I add that her name was “Goodheart”?   Not kidding, I chose her from the phone book specifically because of her name. I mean, how much more comforting could a name be than Dr. Goodheart?

Anyway, she told me that my dreams were so easy to interpret that she shouldn’t even charge me.  For example, while I was seeing her, living away from home at graduate school and very sad and lonely, I had  a dream that I was trying to walk on a long, long path, but that my shoes were too small and I couldn’t get to where I wanted to be.

Yuh.

Obvious.

When I was struggling to have a baby, and was depressed and downhearted, I once dreamed that I climbed up a huge mountain, hand over hand, until I got to the top, where I found a group of women, all sitting and breastfeeding babies.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t climb the last few feet to join them.

Really.

So what do you think Dr. Goodheart would make of my dreams this week?

One was a dream of my lying on my back, flat on my back, and people were piling cardboard on top of me. Tons of cardboard (this comes from the pile of cardboard in the back of my classroom, ready for our annual class play.) In my dream, there are a few people who are driving me nuts, and they are stacking piles and piles of ever more cardboard on top of me, as I try to scream out, “Ass holes!!!!  I hate you!!!”

Yeah.

"More Weight!!"

“More Weight!!”

Just like Giles Corey from the Salem Witch trials.  “Keep piling it on! I can take it!”

And then there was the dream that I was trying to keep a group of little boys safe from danger, and we were hiding in a big old house; it was thundering and pouring outside, and the boys were crying. I was trying to shelter them, and console them, but there were scary monsters outside of all of the windows.  I was scared for a bit, but then I stood up and slammed the windows shut.  So there!

I sat back down and gathered all the little boys into my arms. The dream ended with a feeling of peace.

And I keep dreaming that I’m traveling, on a long road, or on a train, or on a boat in a raging storm.   There are always problems, roadblocks, setbacks.  And I always feel scared, but I always keep going.   I keep going forward.

In my dreams, I never see where it is that I am bound, nor do I ever get there.

But there is always…..always…. the realization that I am moving forward.

What would Dr. Goodheart say to that, I wonder?